Monte Lupo - Bringing colour to the community

Written by
Friday, 30 November 2018
Finished pieces from the workshops - The Garden Dwellers
Finished pieces from the workshops - The Garden Dwellers

Monte Lupo Arts is a ceramics based art studio established in 1991, inspired by the small pottery village in Tuscany. The studio provides training, job coaching and employment opportunities to adults with disabilities. Working together is a mantra of the Monte Lupo way, so it takes many hands to contribute to the creation of a single piece at the studio.

Our creations range from tablewares, sculptural, 2-D paintings, screen printing and soft furnishings such as pillows and tea towels.

The studio is where the magic happens and is located in Eight Mile Plains, Brisbane. We have two gallery/cafe locations where we sell our artworks, one in Eight Mile Plains and one in Banyo.

Monte Lupo’s ceramics are known for their bright colours, whimsical and quirky designs and unique sculptures. We have a potter, a complete rock star who throws all the pieces in our gallery. 

After the pieces are thrown, they are then sent to the decorators who transform the vessels! We have several different tableware lines that are masterminded by our artists, and several one-off pieces as well where our artists are able to freely express their artistic ability.

Monte Lupo - Large figurine sculpture
Monte Lupo - Large figurine sculpture

One of our biggest sellers is our "Butterfly Feeders" that you fill with a nectar and stick right into the ground.

First week of the garden dweller workshop
First week of the garden dweller workshop

Our sculptures range from the mythical, animal-like and human-like figures, and every single one of them is different.

There is so much life being created in our sculpture room; we craft creatures ranging from 5 cm to huge 3 meter sculptures we call “Garden Dwellers”.

Our Garden Dwellers are beautiful life sized feminine sculptures that channel Mother Earth, and are all individually unique.

To finish them off, each piece is mosaic-tiled from tiles that are  handmade and hand-painted in our studio by our artists.

At Monte Lupo, we believe in artistic expression and that every individual deserves the opportunity to express themselves creatively. 

This is why in 2017, we decided to open our doors to the community and start our workshop program; and it’s been a huge success!

At first, we hosted one day sculpture workshops to see if people were interested, and we were blown away with the feedback we got. 

We started with 1-2 week animal and figurine classes, and before too long, we were selling out of our 4-6 week Garden Dweller workshops. 

Dwellers drying after week two of workshop
Dwellers drying after week two of workshop

We cater to all skill levels, but most of our students are beginners, some have never even touched clay before.

There is such a huge learning curve when it comes to teaching sculpture; especially to beginners. I think the most difficult aspect is when the clay is not doing what it is supposed to!

Rainy days, things won’t stay where they are supposed to; hot, humid days, things won’t stay where they are supposed to.

I feel like each new class I teach, I am actually learning how to teach better; how to explain better... in not such a technical way. Air pockets are bad, poking holes are good, adding more clay to support, but not too much where things go boom.

Monte Lupo tablewares
Monte Lupo tablewares

I see it as people come to our workshops as an escape from their stressful lives, so I try to focus not so much on technicalities, but the actual therapy that ceramic art brings.

I absolutely love watching my student’s creations come to life. The students go through the same trials and tribulations that all of us ceramicists go through, all the emotions of inspiration, defeat and satisfaction in such a short 3 hour time frame.

Closeup of handpainted pillows
Closeup of handpainted pillows

Clay gets wet, heads fall off, nail marks are made, arms break, faces are smooshed and clay cracks, but by the end, I have never had a student that didn’t love the process! I have had students cry because the 4 weeks are over and they can’t wait for the next one.

I have had families do workshops together for a bonding experience. We have one student that keeps coming back, class after class, because she says clay heals her.

After one 4 week workshop, one student went out and bought a kiln and wanted to become a ceramist!

Being involved in the community workshop program has been a highlight of my time at Monte Lupo.

As an instructor I not only get to share in the joy of watching my students fall in love with clay for the first time, but it reinforces my own love for the medium!

Our sculpting workshop schedule for 2019 is currently being planned as you are reading this, and will be available for bookings come the new year.

To keep up-to-date on our workshop schedule, and whatever kind of mischief we are creating at Monte Lupo Arts, please follow us:

Facebook at: www.facebook.com/montelupoarts

or on Instagram: www.instagram.com/montelupoarts